Learning How To Belly Tranche

“JP Morgan is one of the best-managed banks there is….” — President Barack Obama, May 14, 2012

Within the rarefied echelons of finance capital dwell civilization’s most brilliant minds: men and women of such profound intellect that those of us who reside at their feet are left to envy their genius. O, what wondrous thoughts they must have.

Here, for your edification, are some of the thoughts of Bruno Iksil, a JP Morgan Chase trader based in London. Bruno, who many refer to as the “London Whale,” because of the size of his trades, made the following comments on Jan. 26, 2012, when it was becoming apparent his genius for making enormously profitable trades seemed to have dried up. In a presentation to Chase’s top investment officers, Bruno recommended they “sell the forward spread and buy protection on the tightening move,” “use indices and add to existing position,” “go long risk on some belly tranches especially where defaults may realize,” and “buy protection on HY and Xover in rallies and turn the position over to monetize volatility.”

If you do not understand Bruno’s proposal, you’re not alone. It appears no one does, including Chase’s top management, because it seems Bruno was talking gibberish. As no one in the room wanted to admit s/he didn’t understand Bruno’s nonsense, everyone pretended they did. (See Mar. 22, 2013, NY Times article on the first business page by Floyd Norris.)

Since Bruno’s trades turned into a $6.2 billion loss for Chase’s investors and since Chase’s CEO, Jamie Dimon, at the time tried to minimize the loss by telling these investors the whole catastrophe was a “tempest in a teapot,” the US Senate decided to look into the debacle. When they asked Ina Drew, Chase’s former chief investment officer, what a “belly tranche” is, she didn’t know. But after hearing Bruno’s presentation last year it took her two months — until late-March 2012 — to finally shut down the London Whale, who remains in Europe avoiding testimony.

In case you think a $6.2 billion loss isn’t all that bad in today’s world, consider that when Bruno was finally shut down, he was in charge of $157 billion in trades. Of 188 countries in the world only 23 governments spend more money in a year than Bruno was betting.

That civilization’s so-called brilliant minds spent months talking gibberish to one another, while the bank was hemorrhaging billions, is beyond absurd. Had Shakespeare, Moliere, or Ionesco tried to write this, they’d have been laughed off the stage.

Yet, these same brilliant minds are evicting us from our homes. How insane must this world get before we say enough?
— Stephen, SAFE Volunteer

(The opinions above do not necessarily represent those of SAFE.)

Housing is a Human Right!


Upcoming Actions:
  • We have more homeowners on the verge of eviction, all of whom have succeeded at the eleventh hour in getting the courts to grant them more time, pushing their fights into early/mid-April. 
  • We are directing our part of our organizing efforts to Seattle’s South Park neighborhood where several SAFE members live. Since this neighborhood only has some 400 homes packed into a very small geographical area, we are working to see if this community is open to declaring itself an Eviction Free Zone. If South Park supports this cause, we’ll move to the next neighborhood, and the next, pushing for a domino effect.    

This Past Week:

  • SAFE membership is growing as Seattle area foreclosures rise unabated.
  • On Friday, SAFE partnered with We Are Oregon for two demand deliveries. The first was for Annette Steele, an octogenarian from Portland; the second, for our own Judy Lovelett. The actions took place at Fidelity’s and Wells Fargo’s downtown headquarters. At each action we stood together and had one person calmly read the list of demands backed up by 15 supporters. In the Wells Fargo lobby the manager initially ranted that we had no right to be there and must leave immediately, but with the attention of everyone on the floor pointed at us, he eventually calmed down, not wanting to be the lunatic screaming at foreclosure victims.
  • We are building a Rapid Response Network to bring people out when the sheriff comes to evict.
  • We are developing a new SAFE website and are working to transfer our old site to the new one.
  • We are moving to a new Newsletter format. Please stay tuned.


Other Upcoming & Ongoing Events:
  • Tuesdays, 7:00 – 8:30 PM: Weekly SAFE Meeting: Bethany UCC, 6230 Beacon Ave S (NE corner of Graham St).  All are welcome! (This Tuesday’s Neighborhood Meeting starts at 6:30 PM.)
  • Working Group and Organizer Meetings:
    • Mondays, 3:00 PM: ITC (Information Technology & Communications) Working Group: Meet on Google Hangout
    • Tuesdays, 5:00 PM: Message Working Group at SAFE House
    • Tuesdays, 5:30 PM: Resource Working Group at SAFE House
    • Tuesdays, 6:00 PM: Organizer Meeting at SAFE House (This week’s meeting will only be 15 mins. as Neighborhood Meeting starts at 6:30 PM.)
    • Wednesdays, 6:30 PM: Tactical Working Group at SAFE House
    • Saturdays, 1:30 PM: Outreach Working Group at SAFE House: Door-to-Door canvassing: We will train you, and you’ll travel by car with an experienced volunteer.  
Questions?  Comments?
You can reach us at info@SAFEinSeattle.org or 206-203-2125.  Please visit our web site:  www.SAFEinSeattle.org.

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